The Old Testament in Light of the Archaeological Evidence

  • Kenneth A. Kitchen
  • May 1, 2004
  • Series: Volume 7 - 2004

Kitchen, Kenneth A. On the Reliability of the Old Testament. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2003. xxii + 662 pages. Hardback. ISBN 0-8028-4960-1.

Kitchen's book provides the reader with the most thoroughly researched and comprehensive collection of relevant ancient Near Eastern material available for the establishment of Old Testament history within its original and authentic world. Although not intended as a history of Israel in the traditional sense of that term, it serves the reader better and more completely than anything previously available. Those who have read the author's Ancient Orient and Old Testament will find here the same detailed discussion and dense collection of facts that the earlier volume presented. Whereas that book, written in the 1960's, covered material up to its time, Kitchen has now moved on to bring together and argue the issues of the last three and a half decades, as well as earlier. The result is an amazing collection of materials, focused primarily on the textual and secondarily on the artifacts. Few scholars of any persuasion are as conversant with the primary sources as this author. Few have read as widely or done their research as thoroughly. Here is a work that will repay the hours invested in its study with a balanced and source-based understanding of the world behind the Old Testament and how much that world contributes to a full appreciation of the Bible and history.

In his first chapter, Kitchen presents his rationale for ordering the remaining materials. Dividing the Old Testament into seven historical epics, he chooses to begin with the last two (the Divided Monarchy and the Exile and Return) and to work backwards in subsequent chapters: United Monarchy, Settlement in Canaan, Egyptian Sojourn and Exodus, Patriarchs, and Primeval Proto-History. This sequence makes the book somewhat more difficult to read as a history; however, it is appropriate to the author's method. By so doing, Kitchen may begin from what is better known and work backwards to the biblical texts that are less well attested or more controversial as to their historicity.

Kitchen examines the Divided Monarchy first. Using methodology appropriate to a historian, he begins with the primary sources. He catalogs all the references to foreign rulers in the books of Kings and Chronicles and then discusses all the references to rulers of Israel and Judah from outside the Bible. Where comparative evidence exists the data from Egypt, Assyria, Babylonia, Aram, Phoenicia, and the Bible demonstrate a consistency in the names and sequences of rulers to which they refer. This provides the essentials with which to review the chronology of the Divided Monarchy. Using Thiele's system as a starting point, Kitchen examines the various issues of multiple calendar systems and the question of accession year and nonaccession year dating systems. He concludes that Thiele best explains the biblical data down to Manasseh, and makes a few minor adjustments after that (nonaccession-year dating for Jehoram, Ahaziah II, and Joash) in order to synchronize virtually all the biblical references in one of several useful charts in the book (pp. 30-32). The author provides a history of the United Monarchy, using the available sources (pp. 32-45). As elsewhere in the book, he demonstrates competency in both the primary sources and also the discussions current in scholarship. Thus the reader learns that the sources demonstrate pharaoh Shoshenq I (= Shishak; c. 945-924 B.C.) as the only Shoshenq with known activities in Palestine. His unfinished works in celebration of his victory place the campaign in either 927/6 or 926/5, identical to pharaoh Shishak's invasion mentioned in the Bible as occurring in the fifth year of Rehoboam. That would be 926/5. It provides a congruous date using an Israelite (biblical) series independent of the Egyptian one. Kitchen understands the Mesha stela to describe a revolt of Mesha king of Moab against Jehoram king of Israel shortly after the death of Ahab (c. 850 B.C.). Accepting the most widely followed reconstruction of the Tel Dan stela, Kitchen connects the king of Israel mentioned here with the same king Jehoram mentioned in the Mesha stela (though not by a preserved name). This king of Judah in the Tel Dan stela is Ahaziah (II). The two kings were killed by Jehu according to 2 Kings 9, but Hazael of Damascus takes the credit in the stela. However, Jehu did not accept vassalage to Hazael but immediately appealed to the Assyrian King Shalmaneser III, presenting him with tribute in 841, as displayed on the black obelisk. Israelite vassalage to Assyria begins in earnest a century later when Menahem pays a thousand talents of silver in 740, the going rate for kings in weak positions in their home country. The remainder of the section discusses the later interventions of the Assyrian and Babylonian powers. On the basis of the analysis of these records, the author concludes (1) that Pekah was not overthrown by Hoshea but exiled by the Assyrian king; (2) it is unlikely that Samaria fell other than in 722 at the hands of Shalmaneser V; and (3) that Hezekiah paid tribute after Sennacherib and his army had retreated. This latter point deals with the question of two separate sources in 2 Kings concerning the battle: one that is regarded as factual and earlier (18:13-16) and one that is later and theological (18:17 through chapter 19). However, Kitchen notes that Sennacherib himself makes theological comments ("Trusting in the god Ashur my lord, I fought with them and defeated them") in an account written within one year of the campaign of 701 (p. 50). In his discussion of Sennacherib's attack on Jerusalem, he regards 2 Kings 18:15-16 as containing a "footnote" describing how Hezekiah gathered the tribute, although it was not paid until after Sennacherib retreated (p. 42). Perhaps verses 13-16 can be better understood as a summary statement that often appears at the beginning of a Hebrew narrative. The author reviews all the major excavated sites within Israel and correlates their occupational strata from this time (pp. 51-61). This valuable and competent survey provides notes on possible ancient Near Eastern and biblical events in relation to the sites. A summary of the chapter's information concludes that the three and a half centuries covered by the divided monarchy can be correlated with external written and archaeological sources to provide a reliable account.

Continuing into the exilic and postexilic periods of the Old Testament, Kitchen observes how the biblical writes here also correlate the line of Persian kings with what is known from external sources. Furthermore, Sanballat of Samaria's successor Sanballat II is known from the Wadi Daliyeh papyri, and the biblical Sanballat is referred to in the Elephantine papyri of 407 B.C. (p. 74). Inscriptions naming Geshem and the family of Tobiah, all enemies of Nehemiah, have also been found. The foundation and control of cults throughout the Persian empire is attested from Elephantine in southern Egypt to Lycia and Magnesia in Anatolia. At Elephantine a Jewish representative of the emperor was dispatched to guarantee the proper observation of the Jewish festivals, much as Ezra did in Jerusalem.

With the evidence for the latter part of the Old Testament addressed, Kitchen now turns to examine the earlier period. He begins with the United Monarchy. First, he argues that the period of Saul, David, and Solomon, from the eleventh to the latter part of the tenth century, was a time of weakness when both Egypt and Mesopotamia (Assyria and Babylonia) were occupied with internal concerns and left no records of international contacts. Nothing among the Aramean inscriptions dates this early. Of the remaining Phoenician and Luvian inscriptions from Syria and Turkey, they are almost entirely concerned with their own affairs. In Palestine there are virtually no monumental inscriptions from this period or later during the Monarchy. Kitchen mentions only a small fragment from Samaria with a single word, the relative pronoun for "who" or "which." Otherwise, he notes the Ekron inscription, the Mesha stela, the small Ammonite texts and fragments, and the Tel Dan stela as all that remains from Philistia, Moab, Ammon, and southern Aram (with nothing from Edom) for historical monumental texts from the entire Monarchy (pp. 90-91). He is correct to ignore the Jehoash inscription as too many questions remain concerning its identity. There is also now a fragmentary Jerusalem monumental inscription (F. M. Cross, "A Fragment of a Monumental Inscription from the City of David," Israel Exploration Journal 51/1 (2001) 44-47), although its surviving part seems to deal only with financial (temple tax?) matters. Kitchen locates the personal name of David in the dynastic references to "the house of David" as found on the ninth century Tel Dan and Mesha inscriptions. He also finds the name in the place name "the heights of Dwt" on the Egyptian itinerary of Shoshenq I from 925 B.C. Citing examples where an Egyptian "t" transcribed a Semitic "d" in various proper names, as well as other Asiatic "David's" (e.g., Twti and Tt-w't), along with a sixth century Ethiopic rendering of King David in the same manner (Dwt), Kitchen argues convincingly for the south Judean tenth century place name, "the heights of David," as the earliest extrabiblical reference to the founder of Judah's dynasty (p. 93). Like many other details in this volume, the author himself had published this earlier as a journal article ("A Possible Mention of David in the Late Tenth Century BCE, and Deity *Dod as Dead as the Dodo?" Journal for the Study of the Old Testament 76 [1997] 29-44) but here presents it for the first time as part of an integrated discussion of the history of Israel. The same is true for his mini-empires model in which the biblical description of the empire of Solomon has comparable geo-political realities with roughly contemporary mini-empires of Tabal, Carchemish, and Aram-Zobah (pp. 99-104; cf. "The Controlling Role of External Evidence in Assessing the Historical Status of the Israelite Monarchy," pp. 111-130 in V. P. Long, D. W. Baker, and G. J. Wenham eds., Windows into Old Testament History: Evidence, Argument, and the Crisis of "Biblical Israel", Grand Rapids: Eerdmans). It is a distinctive contribution of Kitchen's work that much of what he writes in his historical study represents materials that he himself has not only seen firsthand but has often been the first to publish in terms of their relationship to Israel's history. Of course, he also makes use of work that others have done. An example of this is A. Malamat's observations concerning a text of the Assyrian Shalmaneser III (eighth century B.C.) who refers to his predecessor Assur-rabi II (1013-972). During the latter's reign, the king of Arumu captured two cities east of the Euphrates. If Arumu is Aram, a likely possibility, then this king may be Hadadezer of Aram-Zobah who drew upon this area for troops for his army in his struggles with David (2 Sam. 10:13-19). Again, the Late Bronze Age parallels for the "way of the king" (1 Sam. 8:11ff.) challenge the view that this must be a later antimonarchical insertion; using evidence from Ugarit, Mari, and Alalakh. To these one might add a fourteenth century parallel to v. 12 regarding royal conscription for work on the land. The text comes from Palestine itself as Amarna letter 365, from Biridiya of Megiddo who used his corvée to work the land for the Egyptians at Shunem (Shunama) in the Jezreel Valley.

Kitchen considers a variety of subjects related to the biblical texts that describe the United Monarchy. Of special interest are Egyptian and adjacent regions. Thus the identity (Siamun) and purpose (reduce taxation) of the pharaoh and his conquest and gift of Gezer to Solomon are reviewed (pp. 107-112). At the same time he examines other areas of international relations: Hiram and Phoenician trade (pp. 112-115), the queen of Sheba and trade in gold and spices from South Arabia and east Africa (especially behind the Red Sea mountains of the Sudan, pp. 115-120), and the Temple of Solomon with its 105 feet by 30 feet dimensions and its similarities (three levels of storerooms around three sides of the building, two columns in a portico, and a most holy place within) to temples among second millennium B.C. Hittites and Egyptians as well as the important contemporary Syrian site of 'Ain Dara (pp. 122-127). Regarding the temple, the details – such as three courses of stone followed by one of timber, wood paneling in the inner walls, gold plating and decoration, and various implements – all have parallels in the Bronze and Iron Ages. The same is true of the other public buildings, the administration, and various cultural aspects of Solomon's kingdom as recorded in the books of Kings and Chronicles. His discussion of the recent debate regarding the date of the traditional Solomonic gates and fortifications at Hazor, Megiddo, and Gezer is based upon an analysis of the strata at Hazor. Like others, Kitchen concludes that there are too many levels of occupation and destruction within too short a period for the late date of Finkelstein and Ussishkin to be acceptable (pp. 140-150). Another major debate from the United Monarchy, that Jerusalem was too small and insignificant to be the capital of an empire and that the land of Palestine in the tenth century was largely uninhabited, is disputed. Kitchen (p. 154) observes the south Samaria survey's results of almost one hundred small sites in that area alone. He also notes separate studies by Mazar and Dever that list another twenty or thirty sites throughout Palestine at this time, included fortified centers. Finally, he compares the 16th and 15th century capital of Egypt, Thebes, during the time of the creation of its New Kingdom empire. It was also a small village or town.

Kitchen denies that the book of Joshua purports to describe a complete conquest. He notes that only Hazor was burned among the towns of the hill country, and that Israel remained centered at Gilgal throughout the battles of Joshua 1-12 (pp. 162-163). Although they cannot be equated with the 'Apiru of the fourteenth century Amarna letters, the Hebrews/Israelites were similar in their raiding of towns. Greater than the size of the territory initially occupied by Joshua's generation (from Bethel to Shechem and Tirzah) and much more significant politically was the achievement of Abdi-Ashirta and his son Aziru in northern Lebanon in the fourteenth century Amarna correspondence (p. 166). Like others, Kitchen recognizes rhetorical forms in Joshua whose literal interpretation must be qualified by notes in the text. Thus the complete elimination of all Canaanite warriors is immediately qualified by a note that there were survivors (Josh. 10:20; p. 174). The philological and onomastic details of Joshua are reviewed as demonstration of a uniquely Late Bronze and Early Iron Age context (i.e., 1550-1000 B.C.). The sites mentioned in the "conquest" of Joshua are each examined for their archaeological remains. Of special interest are Jericho and Ai. The former's destruction was followed by four centuries of absence of occupation that eroded almost everything from that period (p. 187). As for Ai, Kitchen offers a variety of possible explanations for the absence of evidence in the excavations of the site, including the view that Ai is to be located elsewhere (pp. 188-189). Reviving an older naturalistic theory (by Hort) he suggests that the story of the earth "swallowing" Korah and his fellows (Numbers 16) derives from kewirs or mudflats south of the Dead Sea. Two or three dozen centimeters of hardened mud lay over an ooze that can break through during a rainstorm. Located in modern Jordan, east of the Arabah, Punon may be identified with the Feinan region and its association with copper mining. Perhaps here the bronze serpent was made (Num. 21:4-9; 33:41-44).

The book of Judges does not present an alternative view to the same events as occur in Joshua. Instead, it describes "attempts at forcing takeovers, plus settling in next to locals, soon after Joshua" (p. 224). Kitchen notes the selective nature of the book of Judges and sees an overlap in the periods of rule for the different judges. He compares this with examples from Mesopotamia and especially Egypt (p. 204). His interest in chronology establishes a persuasive argument for 1255-1215 as the period of the wilderness wanderings (although allowing five years on either side), and 1160 as the date of the war of Deborah and Barak against Jabin (pp. 207-208). The northern migration of the tribe of Dan and their capture of the city of Laish/Dan should date early in the twelfth century at the beginning of the period of the judges. Level VIIA represents the prosperous Canaanite period while stratum VI reflects a poorer era, that of Dan's settlement. The Jabin who reigned after Joshua's destruction (and fought Deborah and Barak) might have ruled from a center other than Hazor, given its poor remains from this period. The presentation of a chronological chart of the judges, such as occurs on p. 210, is unusual for a serious scholar to attempt to date these figures and so it is very useful. Kitchen finds a similar theological cycle as that of the judges (apostasy, punishment, oppression, repentance, deliverance) in contemporary Egyptian votive inscriptions on stelae presented to the god(s) who delivered the individual (p. 217). In this manner, he argues that Deuteronomistic theology as attributed to the book of Judges, need not be considered late. However, there may be a difference between individual and national (or tribal) aspects of this theology. The Merneptah stele records how the pharaoh launched a campaign into Palestine (c. 1213-1210 B.C.). Kitchen suggests that the battle against Israel may have been designed to discourage banditry among the highland tribes as they came into the lowlands and raided the harvests of Gezer and Ashkelon (cf. Judg. 1:18). An Egyptian fort near Jerusalem, Lifta (named "Waters of Nephtoah = [Mer]neptah;" Josh. 15:9), may have been temporarily established at this time. Finally, from this period the author allows that the fascinating structure on Mt. Ebal may be a cult site such as found in Joshua 8 and 24 (pp. 232-234). He notes that certainty is impossible but no other suggestion is entirely satisfactory.

Chapter 6, "Lotus Eating and Moving On – Exodus and Covenant," continues the process of moving back in the biblical record. Here, half way through his book, the author reaches the period of the exodus and wilderness wanderings. Early on he establishes the essential positive and negative arguments regarding the event of the exodus. Positively, "...why on earth invent such a tale about such humiliating origins? Nobody else in Near Eastern antiquity descended to that kind of tale of community beginnings." (p. 245). Negatively, the question of the absence of Egyptian archaeological and written evidence about the exodus can best be answered by a professional Egyptologist (p. 246; cf. p. 311):

The mud hovels of brickfield slaves and humble cultivators have long since gone back to their mud origins, never to be seen again. Even stone structures (such as temples) hardly survive, in striking contrast to sites in the cliff-enclosed valley of Upper Egypt to the south.
...practically no written records of any extent have been retrieved from Delta sites reduced to brick mounds...a tiny fraction (of late date) have been found carbonized (burned)...A tiny fraction of reports from the East Delta occur in papyri recovered from the desert near Memphis. Otherwise, the entirety of Egypt's administrative records at all periods in the Delta is lost (fig. 32B); and monumental texts are also nearly nil. And, as pharaohs never monumentalize defeats on temple walls, no record of the successful exit of a large bunch of foreign slaves (with loss of a full chariot squadron) would ever have been memorialized by any king, in temples in the Delta or anywhere else.

Beyond this, Kitchen cites parallels to the work of the Israelites, the request to worship their God in the desert, and exodus-type people movements. He discusses the plagues in some detail, describing possible causes for many of the phenomena. He identifies the sites of Ramesses (Tell el-Dab'a) and Pithom (Tell re-Retaba), discussing the misunderstandings associated with other discussions of these sites. Kitchen proposes further identifications for the itinerary sites (of course, yam suph is "Reed Sea," not "Red Sea") through the desert wanderings and comes down on the traditional site for Mt. Sinai (Gebel Musa) as still the most likely.

Parallels are drawn with typological studies of both the Tabernacle and the covenant documents of the Pentateuch. In each case the closest "fit" occurs with structures and documents of the Late Bronze Age (1550-1200 B.C.). Of special note is the study of curses in Deuteronomy. It is recognized that Deuteronomy 28 has a relationship with the 7th century Neo-Assyrian treaties of Esarhaddon. In fact, seven curses have been identified as similar. This may be compared with the ten connections that the early second millennium B.C. Hammurabi code has with Deuteronomy 28 and the additional five links that occur between ch. 28 and Mari and the Zimri-Lim/Eshnunna treaty. From the common heritage of curse formulae, these and other comparisons emerge. They do not "prove" early or late dating. Kitchen suggests two ways of dealing with the 480 years of 1 Kings 6:1 to arrive at a thirteenth century date for the exodus: either the traditional view of 12 generations of 40 years each, or the addition of years using the figures for the length of time that the judges reigned in the book of Judges. He notes that the Sinai covenant uses a treaty form that did not appear in the ancient world before the fourteenth century. Therefore, the traditional early date of 1447 B.C. will not fit this theory. As he summarizes the evidence (pp. 310-312), one is again aware, as with the chapters on the United Monarchy and on Joshua/Judges, that there are no external witnesses to the exodus or any of the specific events described in the early accounts of the Bible. However, there is much that can be said. What we find is that the events and descriptions, in incidentals as well as major points, correspond again and again to the material remains and the written record contemporary with the purported time of these events. More than this, some items (e.g., the Tabernacle and the covenant structure in the Pentateuch) cannot otherwise be dated than to this time, if the typological method receives its proper significance.

Thus when we come to the patriarchs, Kitchen's (p. 313) observation that the 925 B.C. itinerary of Shishak I may name a place in the biblical Negev as "The Enclosure of Abram," is surprising. Here the name of a patriarchal figure may actually be attested. There are other interpretations but none fits the region like that of this ancient figure who roamed the Negev. Patriarchal marriage customs and monotheism are found to reach back into the early second millennium. Even many of the details of Jacob's years spent with Laban have parallels in the Old Babylonian laws of Hammurabi and the Old Assyrian traditions (pp. 337-338). Of special interest is Kitchen's detailed work on the distinctive construction of names found among West Semitic peoples in the early second millennium B.C. This construction, the Amorite imperfective, occurs in names such as Isaac and Jacob (and Israel). Although it appears in later personal names, it never has the same frequency as in the earlier period. This difference is based on the examination of thousands of names, include some six thousand from the early second millennium. It is thus one of the most empirically verifiable demonstrations of the antiquity of these names. Although in theory names such as Isaac and Jacob could occur later, the clustering of these name forms in the same period as when the Bible depicts them is neither coincidental nor irrelevant. Perhaps for this very reason, this analysis has been among the most misunderstood and attacked of any of the many pieces of evidence that Kitchen has presented to contextualize the Bible. Nevertheless, no evidence exits to overturn the facts. Therefore Kitchen's study is summarized here with the necessary refutation of scholars in the endnotes (pp. 341-343).

Not all will agree with the literary analysis of Isaiah that is proposed (p. 379). Nevertheless, the presence of earlier leaders with the name of Cyrus seems clearly demonstrated. A grandfather of the emperor also ruled in Iran under the name of Cyrus, and an earlier Cyrus ruled c. 646 B.C. Still earlier men named Cyrus may have ruled in Iran (p. 380). The mention of Cyrus is considered a linchpin in the argument for multiple authorship of Isaiah. Given these facts, it is no longer possible to assume that an early Iranian leader named Cyrus was unknown to Isaiah of Jerusalem in the late eighth or early seventh century. Elsewhere in the matter of the biblical prophets, Kitchen analyzes Jeremiah as consisting of seven parts each one of which was originally written on a separate smaller scroll.

This forms background to Kitchen's next chapter, dealing with prophets and prophecy. Kitchen reviews the evidence, from the prophets of Mari (18th century) and the West Semitic world to the Neo-Assyrian "prophecies" of the seventh century. The early Mari prophecies set the tone as they contain the same sort of prophetic emphases as occur in the later biblical prophetic material. The later West Semitic and Neo-Assyrian prophecies focus on the period from c. 800 B.C. to c. 600 B.C., a time period during which the pre-exilic writing prophets worked. Kitchen visits Ugarit and compares the terminology for sacrifice, the structure of the temples, the textually attested confessions of sin, and the sacrificial terminology. He also considers various Palestinian sites of the late second millennium B.C. and the evidence for cultic activities there. However, the strong emphasis in textual evidence means that Kitchen remains skeptical of any iconographic materials without accompanying inscriptions. Thus the well-known Taanach cult stand from the tenth century does not possess images of Asherah where a naked female is associated with a lion. Instead, if it is an image of a goddess, it represents Qadishtu whose connections with lions is textually supported in Egypt. Compare also the compound name of the deity, Qadishtu-Astarte-Anat. Thus it is not the frequently recognized Asherah (p. 410).

For the earliest materials in the Bible, those of Genesis 1-11, Kitchen considers the Mesopotamian primeval accounts, the Sumerian King List, the Atrahasis Epic, and the Eridu Genesis. He notes that, like Genesis 1-11, all these date from the early second millennium B.C. and they all have creation (eventually) followed by a flood and a new start. He concludes that the Pishon River in the Garden of Eden is to be identified (following J. Sauer) with a river that flowed through Saudi Arabia until it dried up in the third millennium B.C. For the Table of Nations (Genesis 10), Kitchen argues that this work, which began in the early second millennium, was updated into the first millennium. Particularly the structure of Genesis 1-11 and its counterparts and the Table of Nations are helpful studies in comparative literature; although it is not clear to this writer that the Eridu Genesis constitutes a unified source.

The concluding chapter of fifty pages reviews much of the evidence presented in greater detail in the previous chapters. However, it does more. Beginning with the recent critical assessments of biblical history from T. L. Thompson, N. P. Lemche, and the work of I. Finkelstein and N. Silberman (with a nod to W. G. Dever), Kitchen reviews and critiques their arguments. He then moves back in time to the middle of the twentieth century and examines the studies on the Genesis narratives by Thompson, J. Van Seters, and the Egyptologist D. B. Redford. After pointing out the errors of evidence in these works, he consider the collection of essays that J. H. Hayes and J. M. Miller published in 1977 and that has become the standard English text on the critical study of Israel's history over the past quarter of a century. Finally, he considers the critics of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. In each case he identifies specific errors of fact, as based upon the evidence that presently exists. In addition, Kitchen provides critical reflections on the Zeitgeist of each period and the manner in which this influenced the presumptions of the age. This includes a review of deconstructionism as applied to historical studies in the present age. It would behoove the student of biblical history to examine and reflect on these pages, particularly the specific discussions of errors in the evidence itself and the manner in which critical scholars have sometimes reported it. The sort of frustration that emerges in discussing the consistent presentation of factual errors by non-specialists in a particular field (however highly respected they are) is exemplified on pp. 481-482, and is worth reading by all would-be historians of the Bible.

One hundred pages of endnotes, forty "plates" of maps, drawings, and charts, and subject and Scripture indexes complete the volume. A book of this sort would benefit more with footnotes than endnotes. It also would be easier to use had the plates been incorporated into the text at the appropriate points.

The author deserves the gratitude of every student of the Bible for this remarkable work. Professor Kenneth Kitchen has devoted his life to the study of the history and culture of ancient Egypt and the ancient Near East. There are few scholars who have worked as long and as carefully with the primary sources as he has. This study presents a clarion call to assess the evidence in the light of a multitude of hypotheses and facile generalizations and to return to the difficult but truly rewarding task of the examination of the primary sources for the study of ancient Israel. With Kitchen, this begins with the Bible itself and proceeds wherever any and all pertinent evidence takes the researcher.

Richard S. Hess, Ph.D.
Professor of Old Testament
Denver Seminary
May 2004